Are You Ready?

  • Published
  • By Maj. Daniel Merkh, 423rd Security Forces Squadron commander

The Air Force, like any big organization, has its own language with its own jargon. Words like readiness, resilience, warrior, and many others are used so often that they seem to lose their meaning. As a career Security Forces Airman, I am trained to perform my best in chaos, to run toward conflict, to be ready at a moment’s notice and to have the fortitude and resilience to keep going. It is the warrior ethos we hope to foster in Defender culture. It is the ability to “suck it up” taking care of the mission while taking care of each other that we so value in military culture. 

Four months ago, I stood on the stage and took the squadron guidon, symbolizing my assumption of command. I was proud of the unit I was joining but also keenly aware that I was a servant, responsible for the safety and well-being of over 140 souls. I did not know, and still do not know, all the challenges that would face our team. Were we ready?

The unit enthusiastically accepted the challenge. “Knights… Ready NOW!” became our mantra.  And I could not be more proud of the drive and engagement that this team has shown. My challenge to you is this: will you join us?  Will you join our quest to be “ready”? There is nothing specifically “Defender” about this journey toward readiness.

The term is unfortunately overused and thus easily misunderstood. To illustrate its intended definition, let us journey down memory lane. It is 2018 and we have an Airman who did not return from a hunting trip. Squadron members are combing the forest around his favorite spots. The call that inhabits every leader’s nightmares comes in: “we found his body.”  In this instance, were we ready? Were we ready to console his wife who was preparing their child’s first birthday celebration? Were we ready to come together as a unit, to still do the job while helping our hurting members to heal?

Fast forward to a few short weeks ago. Another call and this one from our wing commander, “Ramstein desperately needs help with Operation ALLIES REFUGE. We’re going to answer their call.” This was not in the agenda. It was not a standard mission set. Were we ready?

Tomorrow you or I may receive the call: “you are deploying short notice” or “someone in your close circle suffered a tragedy” or any of a million other large or small scenarios. Will you be ready?

Life is made up of crisis points. The decisions we make in those moments define us but we only get the chance to make those decisions if we prepare. How is your personal support system? How is your contingency preparation? Are you ready to do this mission? Are you ready to overcome that challenge? How is your spiritual, emotional, mental and physical health? Are you ready? Now take it a step further. Is the Airman who just joined your unit ready? Do they know that you have their back, that you are there for them and will guide them?

We came to the conviction as a team that the 423rd Security Forces Squadron must be ready, as a community and as professional war fighters. We are working to make ourselves ready for whatever tomorrow brings. I do not claim to have the answers to the test; I just know that the test is coming and we will be ready.